There I was standing with the sun shining on my face, a glass of crisp, cold fresh Tuscan wine in my hand overlooking the most beautiful property adorned with grape and olive trees for as far as the eye could see, thinking there’s no way this could be real.
When you think of a Tuscan villa, your mind likely brings you to a scene from a movie where an American finds themselves marveling at the grandeur of a Renaissance styled building. But nothing can truly prepare you for experiencing it yourself.
First, let’s talk about why villas are one of the most authentic Tuscan experiences. While Florence is rich with history, it’s also a major tourist trap. Do I recommend standing in line to see David in the Academia? Abso-freakin-lutely. I think learning the historic highlights of a new destination is essential to a full travel experience. But when given the opportunity to get away from the city, have a glass of white and have a homemade Italian meal – you say yes.
These Tuscan villas were originally the country or seasonal homes of some of the most powerful people in Florence. During rough political times, wealthy families could seek refuge in these homes and they were originally built up like fortresses or castles for safety. Some of the first villas were built in around 14 and 15 AD, while the villa of the Medici family, for example, was built in around 16 AD.
You don’t need to go into the city to learn authentic Italian history.
Coming from Rome, our Trafalgar tour group had seen just above every history nook and cranny we could have ever wanted to see. Our brains were stuffed with knowledge on ancient Rome and by the time we got to Florence I was feeling a little like my mind needed a break. (Enter: Tuscan wine).
We drove through winding roads from Florence to get to one of the most epic destinations of the entire Italy and Greece trip, a homemade Italian dinner at the picturesque Villa Il Leccio located in Chianti, just 15 kilometers from Florence.
The Landi family lived in Villa Il Leccio for over nine generations and they are still there today. Originally, all eleven rooms of the villa were for family and servants, but now are rented out to guests as the villa is a resort. We received a tour of the gorgeous first floor of the house from the current owner and matriarch of the family.
The walls depicted scenes from generations ago, painted in traditional fresco style adorning all the walls. Interestingly, the dining room does not reflect traditional Tuscan art, instead it has a darker gothic decorations, as one family member was a foreigner and wanted a room that reflected her home.
Walking into the kitchen was like walking into another era long ago, with the large metal pot over the fire place and big stone oven. The dining room was home to a dark, patterned interior different from the rest of the house, as a different family member had designed that room.
After getting a tour of the home, we were served a deliciously fresh, home made dinner, with many ingredients coming fresh from the garden. Talk about authentic Italian cuisine!
Not to mention, something I thought was really interesting about Villa Ill Leccio was that they also offer cooking classes! What an awesome way to learn to make a tasty Italian dishes.
The rooms at Villa Il Leccio are very affordable – ranging from 95€ to 250€ depending on the room size and the season you are booking. The villa boasts access to historical sites and destinations off the beaten path that gets you to truly know authentic Tuscany.
Have you ever spent time at a Tuscan villa? What was the experience like?
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